Radio: I Discuss My Contention That We Should Take a Break from Constant Phone and Internet Use with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio

The Mediterranean Ocean off Sicily, photographed during a boat trip in August 2017 (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

Regular readers will know that I just got back from a fortnight’s holiday in Sicily with my family, and that, after the second week, in which I was offline for the whole time, I returned to the UK and published my immediate thoughts about the benefits of sometimes switching off from the whole internet and mobile phone world in an article entitled, Switch Off Your Devices and Have a Week Off: Why Headspace, Silence and Human Interaction is Good for Us.

After publishing it, I was very pleasantly surprised when Chris Cook of Gorilla Radio, based in Canada, got in touch to ask me if I’d be interested in appearing on his weekly show to discuss it, and I happily agreed. Chris and I have spoken many times before, but always about Guantánamo, so I was delighted to be able to talk about another topic that interests me.

The one-hour show is available here (and here as an MP3) and my interview with Chris begins around 35 minutes in, after an interview William Laurance, an Australian research professor, who has been studying the impact of cars on wildlife, and is the author of an article entitled, Curbing an Onslaught of 2 Billion Cars. Read the rest of this entry »

Switch Off Your Devices and Have a Week Off: Why Headspace, Silence and Human Interaction is Good for Us

A view of the sea edge of the ancient salt pans at Trapani, in western Sicily (Photo: Andy Worthington).Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

I’m just back from a fortnight’s holiday with my family in Sicily, and am also just back online after a week with no internet access at all, which was a wonderfully refreshing experience.

Don’t get me wrong. I make a living — or what passes for a living — mostly online, and I know more than many how the internet can enable individuals to become truly independent media sources and activists, and how we can reach out across the world in a way that was never possible before the advent of the world wide web. It’s what I’ve been doing for the last eleven years, and will continue to do so long as there are appreciate people out there who are prepared to support me in what I do.

However, the permanently connected world is not without its pitfalls — and I’m not just thinking about fake news, bigotry, and the horrendous rise of cyber-bullies and cyber-misogynists. Every year, when I switch off, I return to a time when there was space in our lives — space to think, to reflect, even to be bored, which can be a constructive experience. It’s somewhere I try to get to regularly in my everyday life, cycling around London taking photos, with no mobile phone connecting me to the online world (or able to track my every move), but I always return to my laptop, to the blizzard of emails, notifications, status updates and more from the absurdly large number of people who purport to be my “friends,” but who, in reality, are a relatively small number of friends and acquaintances vastly outnumbered by people I don’t know at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Guest Post: Tom Pettinger, PhD Student, Examines Artificial Intelligence – Is It the Saviour of Humanity, Or Its Destroyer?

An artificial intelligence image.Please support my work as a reader-funded investigative journalist and commentator.

 

The following article is one of my few forays into topics that are not related to Guantánamo, British politics, my photos or the music of my band The Four Fathers, but I hope it’s of interest. It’s an overview of the current situation regarding artificial intelligence (AI), written by Tom Pettinger, a PhD student at the University of Warwick, researching terrorism and de-radicalisation. Tom can be contacted here.

Tom and I first started the conversation that led to him writing this article back in May, when he posted comments in response to one of my articles in the run-up to last month’s General Election. After a discussion about our fears regarding populist leaders with dangerous right-wing agendas, Tom expressed his belief that other factors also threaten the future of our current civilisation — as he put it, “AI in particular, disease, global economic meltdown far worse than ’08, war, [and] climate change.”

I replied that my wife had “just returned from visiting her 90-year old parents, who now have Alexa, and are delighted by their brainy servant, but honestly, I just imagine the AI taking over eventually and doing away with the inferior humans.”

Tom replied that it seems that AI “could pose a fairly short-term existential risk to humanity if we don’t deal with it properly,” adding that the inventor and businessman Elon Musk “is really interesting on this topic.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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